THE RABBIT FACTORY

Larry Brown, Author . Free Press $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4523-4

Grimly realistic, tragic-absurd and raunchy, Brown's latest novel returns to his deep South fictional territory and to the characters—poor, largely uneducated, hard-drinking, cigarette and dope smoking—that he portrays so well. This time he juggles a large cast with one thing in common: they're long-time losers whose paths intersect in or near Memphis. Arthur is nearly 70, impotent and fearful of losing his sexy younger wife, Helen. She tries to seduce teenaged Eric, a pet shop employee who fled his abusive father's rabbit factory—a metaphor for the uncaring world in which these people exist. Anjalee is a prostitute who smites the heart of Wayne, a navy boxer. Domino has survived a prison term and now works butchering meat for a gangster named Mr. Hamburger, who sells it to a man who owns lions. Trouble is, the body of one of Mr. Hamburger's victims turns up in the meat locker, which complicates Domino's extracurricular job dealing weed over the border in Mississippi. The plot includes several murders, lots of sex, domestic spats and plenty of action in bars. Even the violent scenes veer close to farce. Dogs figure prominently, one of them a pit bull named Jada Pickett. Miss Muffet, who is the housekeeper for one of the spoiled canines, has a plastic leg. Yet even with the advantage of Brown's keen eye for the absurdities of life and for the habits of people who live on the edge, the book fails to deliver the punch of his earlier works. Fay, his most accomplished novel to date, was darker, but one could identify with the protagonist. Here, the characters are all self-absorbed and incessantly whiny, and their obsessive rambling thoughts are recounted in numbing detail. Readers will understand well before the end that these sad lives will never go anywhere but down. Author tour. (Sept. 9)

Reviewed on: 06/23/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4025-4653-2
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-2096-5
Paperback - 339 pages - 978-0-7432-4524-1
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-7432-5004-7
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-7432-6027-5
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